Writers have to plumb the depths. What is hidden a few layers deep? What is really going on? It’s part of character development, obviously, but it’s often indicative of why we write, too. And it’s true about non-fiction writers as well as novelists. Theologians? Write because of sin, suffering, wonder and marvel over the revealed God! And though the following article may be more personally insightful than character building toward that future best seller, it’s worth a read. Maybe you’ve seen it: it speaks via cartoon about the difference—and perspectives—between “thank you” and “sorry.” After the link, I’ll expand on sorrow and writing.
Unless you’re Canadian, you’re not doing anyone any favors by saying “sorry” all the time. New York based artist Yao Xiao takes this a step further in her comics, where she suggests that you say “thank you” instead. The Internet is full of empty promises and terrible art, but this idea is worth paying attention to; see how using “thank you” instead of “sorry” plays out below.
So, ok, maybe that can reshape conversation and perspective a bit. But let’s take it a step further. “Sorry” can be meant profoundly. As Lutherans, we ingrain a practice and lifestyle of repentance even into our Easter and other uppermost joys!
Sorrow is heavy stuff. How we handle it with our words, or as we dig through those deepening layers of characters, humanity, audience, or ourselves is one of those long-term, evolving experiences that can, and maybe should, be explored.
Part of me wonders if Christians aren’t able to explore it all the more deeply because of our understanding of sin and utter dependence on a merciful God. And capturing that struggle in writing is part of what makes good fiction and resonating non-fiction.
While sorrow is, in a sense, all over the place, maybe we can hone perspective a bit, our own and then our audiences. We present and share sorrow precisely in the midst of giving thanks! And that disposition, that seeming juxtaposition, may be something we can offer the world whether we are writing explicitly religious or not.
What is really going on? Sinners and sins in the sight of a Savior. Turning heads when sometimes we need listening ears. Layers and layers of psychology and sizing up, and layers and layers of God at work in a fallen, corrupting world.